AFTER THE GAME - Bridging the gap from winning athlete to thriving entrepreneur | by Jay Dixon

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As an athlete, it is easy to get wrapped up in the idea of winning, even if you are solely competing against yourself. Your performance in your sport can significantly influence your self-worth and sense of identity, with a single game day having the potential to significantly impact your attitude for days afterward. Victories can offer a boost of confidence that sticks with you, but when you don’t perform as well as you would like, it can be difficult not to let these negative feelings overpower you. It is important to remember that every game and every season provides an opportunity for personal growth, no matter how well or poorly you do.

But what happens when the competition on the field ends? For many athletes, it usually translates into starting a business or investing. But the reality is the competition isn’t the same. That’s not to say it’s not competitive, but a different arena translates to different rules of play. And in the world of business, starting your own can cause you to lose your identity as an athlete as you try to find your way through creating a life as an entrepreneur.

So, how do you keep your identity as an athlete as you build a business?

Especially since I have been through this same journey myself as a former professional athlete, I know the feeling of leaving the field for good and sitting around wondering what you’re going to do with your life.


The reality of being a college or professional athlete

 If you’re not careful, your success and accomplishments on the field and in the game may become the primary way you determine how valuable a person you are. Unfortunately, this can drastically affect your overall well-being and happiness over time.


Here are a few things you can practice now to help you hold onto your identity as an athlete while creating a life as an entrepreneur.


Separate your person from your performance

As a sidelined athlete, it’s incredibly important to ensure your self-worth remains unaffected by performance. Remind yourself that success does not define who you are – instead, recognize the value in every effort and journey toward achieving goals! And bring that mindset into starting your own business.


Remember these tips:


What you do does not define who you are.


You CAN do anything you set your mind to.


Failure doesn’t not define the future success of your business.


Developing a healthy identity starts with recognizing that your worth is not connected to your achievements or accomplishments in sports. It’s important to distinguish between the value that lies within who you are versus the successes and failures you experience in the world of athletics.


Fail and get back up, keep trying


As you embark on your next journey, remember that mistakes and failures are part of the process. Navigating any new world can be a bit daunting – so don’t put too much pressure on yourself to achieve perfection right away! Instead, view missteps as opportunities for growth and learning, just as you did in practice.


Treat your business like a game

One of the biggest things that can feel lost when your time on the court or field is done is that the game or sport of it all is lost forever. But the reality is, if you approach starting and running your own business like playing a game, you can feel that rush of excitement again. You can start to find the fun in the monotony of starting your own business that would otherwise leave you feeling stopped and bored. Start treating your business like a game, and you’ll be able to tap into what made you fall in love with sports in the first place.

Organize your week into plays

You can even break the end of the week down into a two-minute drill when you’re faced with a coming deadline. By breaking your work week into plays, you’ll naturally feel at home. You’ll know what needs to be done and by when and have an exact plan to execute it fully.


We can do more to prepare

It is no secret that sports stress preparation, dedication, and the right mentality. While this is infinitely important for young athletes still developing their skills on the court or field, it can be dangerous to focus exclusively on these aspects of the game and neglect to nurture the mind and soul beyond sports. With the rise of professional sports, young athletes need greater guidance on building an identity outside of athletics – something all members of the sports industry, from coaches to mentors, should strive to do as individuals. It is also essential for those in leadership positions to promote the idea that there is much more to a person than just their performance within the sport. Coaches, mentors, and families alike have an incredible opportunity here to make sure that their players thrive athletically, spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and socially.

As we enter this new world of uncertainty, the best gift you can give yourself is to take a few moments and ask: what do I want out of life? Then, reflect on your own motivations, passions, and goals – now more than ever, it’s essential that you be at the forefront. So, keep these tips in mind, and you’ll be well on your way to understanding your identity off the field and tapping into it to create the entrepreneurial life you want.